One of the most important – and most frequently overlooked – aspects of planning outdoor expeditions is to ensure that you have sufficient training in survival skills to give you the maximum chance of maintaining your well being in potentially dangerous or even life threatening situations. Survival skills are essentially ways to ensure that all your basic needs – food, water, shelter, safety, and warmth. For example – are met even in a hostile, Survival Skills unfamiliar or difficult situation. Many people regularly plan hiking, trekking or mountaineering expeditions, but few take the trouble to educate themselves about even the most crucial of surviving skills.
The first thing you need to think about in any outdoor expedition is how to fulfill your basic needs when out in the wilderness. The most urgent need will, of course, be the procurement of food and water. In a survival situation, it is best to search for edible plants, as they contain a sufficient amount of carbohydrates and can be obtained without too much effort or skill. The essential skill involved here is differentiating between edible and inedible plants. Wild mushrooms should be avoided unless you can positively identify them as edible, because many of them are poisonous. If you are foraying into areas with heavy vegetation, it would be a good idea to carry a handbook on edible plant foods. However, in arid areas, you will have to rely on either non perishable food items you have with you, or on bird eggs, animals and even insects. Many experts recommend that you put aside you prejudices against insects, because their fat rich bodies make very good survival food! As far as hunting is concerned, it is not advisable to try to hunt if you have o prior experience of it; it can be dangerous to provoke wildlife you have no knowledge of.
The need for water is even more urgent than that for food. In a forest, water can be procured from various plants even if you cannot find a steam or rainwater pool. For instance, green bamboo, if cut properly, releases a lot of clean, drinkable water. Several other trees and plants contain water and this should be researched before venturing into such areas. In deserts, damp sand indicates nearby water, and so does vegetation. Generally if you obtain water from a stream or river, you may need to purify it before drinking. One way is to boil it over a fire, and if that is not possible, then you can use water purification tablets. Never, ever use blood, alcohol, urine or seawater to quench your thirst, no matter how thirsty you are – these substances actually cause your body to lose its remaining fluids even faster, and blood and urine may contain harmful substances.
Another crucial wilderness survival skill is to find shelter from extreme weather conditions or from wild animals. In a forest, you can climb a large, leafy tree to protect you from dangerous animals or excessive heat. In extreme cold, you must know how to build a snow shelter. Igloos can keep you very warm, but require some skill to make. Snow tents combined with extra blankets are an easier option. Secondly, you must know how to kindle a fire in a cold environment. Keep waterproof matches with you along with a stout knife or other weapon to cut firewood.
Finally, you must know how to signal and transmit your location if you lose your way. Learn to use SOS, or signal fires, and even shiny, reflective materials can be used on a sunny day to attract attention. Hence the bottom line is that you must be educated in survival skills according to your plan of travel, and must prepare mentally and physically before setting out, to ensure survival under trying circumstances.
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